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In case you were busy and missed the announcement, a book that was published 14 years ago has been honored with the prestigious Diagram Prize. But one of its authors doesn't sound at all excited. The award, sponsored by Bookseller magazine, a British trade journal, is going to "Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers." Sound like a page turner to you? No? Well, that's not the point. The Diagram Prize recognizes the volume with the most unusual title, based on the results of online voting. The runner-up was "People Who Don't Know They're Dead." Third place went to "How to Avoid Huge Ships." Among those out of the running: "Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice."
Candidates for the prize are nominated by publishers, bookstore employees, librarians, and teachers around the world. To be eligible, a book must be about a serious subject and its title may not be gimmicky. While the contest is an annual affair, the sponsors decided there also should be a special category recognizing its entire 30-year history. Perhaps in jest, a spokesman for the magazine said he thought the voting might have been influenced by public concern over the closing of rural post offices around Britain.
Ah, but when asked for comment, the winner's coauthor took an entirely different view. Derek Willan said he doesn't consider the title odd. It "purely describes what's in the book," which was issued by a stamp collectors group, the Hellenic Philatelic Society of Great Britain, he told the BBC.